Member for Northern Victoria, Tania Maxwell MP has highlighted the disconnect between the justice and health systems, saying they are failing communities through a lack of drug rehabilitation services.

Ms Maxwell cited a case in Shepparton in February 2020, where an offender was bailed on the basis of entering a rehabilitation facility, despite opposition of the police prosecutor due to concerns he was a flight risk, for the offender to abscond when the bed was not available.

Ms Maxwell said that if appropriate rehabilitation services were not immediately available, offenders should be detained to receive treatment in a correctional facility and have a chance for detox and resetting a life path away from crime.

Ms Maxwell said the issue is further complicated by a critical shortage of rehabilitation services across Northern Victoria, despite continued calls for an increase in resources.

The release of the latest National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Report by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission shows usage of illicit drugs including ICE, oxycodone and fentanyl are much higher regional Victoria as compared to metropolitan Victoria, as well as being than both the national and regional averages.

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:

“If a consideration for issuing bail to an offender is to undertaken drug rehabilitation, the offender should be released directly to the facility or remanded until a space is available.”

“The grip of illicit drugs is so intense, we are kidding ourselves if we think offenders can wait days for a spot in a rehabilitation. We are setting them up to fail without a stopgap, and invariably they succumb to their addiction and reoffend while on bail.”